New York’s Metropolitan Opera has ended its relationship with its former Music Director James Levine. In a statement, the Met said ‘After considering the findings of a thorough investigation conducted by outside counsel that lasted more than three months, the Metropolitan Opera has terminated its relationship with James Levine as Music Director Emeritus and Artistic Director of its young artist program.
‘The investigation uncovered credible evidence that Mr Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met. The investigation also uncovered credible evidence that Mr Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct towards vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr Levine had authority. In light of these findings, the Met concludes that it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr Levine to continue to work at the Met.’ More than 70 people were interviewed during the investigation.
James Levine held the position of Music Director at the Met for 40 years (1976-2016), during which time he raised the standard and status of performance enormously. He also held the role of Music Director of the Boston Symphony from 2004 to 2011, the first American conductor to hold the post.
Three days after his dismissal, Levine launched a lawsuit against the Met for breach of contract and defamation. Denying any wrongdoing, Levine has accused the house of attempting to oust him from the Met ‘and completely erase his legacy from the organisation’. His claim seeks more than $5.8 million in damages based on his ten-year contract as Music Director Emeritus with an annual salary of $400,000 plus $27,000 for each performance.
This story has been updated to include details of James Levine's lawsuit.